Eat or Retreat,  Product Reviews

Eat or Retreat: McCormick’s Instant Asian Noodles

There’s a relatively new player in the instant noodle game, and it comes in the form of McCormick’s Noodle and Seasoning Mix line. I was actually quite surprised when I spotted these awhile back as I was walking down the supermarket aisle, and the surprise quickly turned into curiosity.

I don’t normally buy instant packs like this but my perspective changed when I got to sample Prima Taste and their high quality instant Asian noodles. For those who crave Asian noodles but can’t up and travel on a whim, those are really good substitutes for the real thing. In short, McCormick had some really high expectations to chase after in my book.

These noodle packs are available in 5 Asian flavours, including Chinese Birthday Noodles, Filipino Palabok, Pad Thai, and of course the two I am about to review below.

Product: McCormick’s Instant Asian Noodles and Seasoning Mix in Laksa & Chap Chae
Serving: 3 to 4 people per pack
Price: Php 200+ (Prices may vary)
Availability: In all leading supermarkets

To start, I want to let everyone know this isn’t a sponsored post. ‘Eat or Retreat‘ is a new review series I’ll be working on for the blog, focusing mostly on products that catch my attention in the grocery store. I’m going to review these based on my experience preparing and tasting them, and giving them a score out of 5.

McCormick’s Laksa

Let’s start with the Laksa. The package includes the noodles, one packet of coconut milk powder, plus one packet of the laksa flavouring and sambal paste. The instructions are pretty straightforward, and it will take maybe 30 minutes to get this on the table if you plan to prepare the extra recommended ingredients not included in the noodle package.

Says here you can add some shrimp, bean sprouts, tofu. Apart from adding the tofu (since I didn’t have some at the time), I followed this to the letter so I can give you a fair review on this product.

First you boil the noodles until soft, then drain. Set aside for a bit.

In a separate pot with three cups of water, you want to add in the two flavouring packs and mix well until all the powder is dissolved.

Bring to a boil before adding the noodles, then in goes the shrimp and the bean sprouts.

The final touch is the sambal paste, which is supposed to add a little more red into the soup. Sadly that didn’t work out as well as I hoped.

Somehow this laksa ended up looking really anemic, and as expected the taste I was looking for wasn’t there. I used the 3 cups of water as instructed but the soup still ended up quite runny instead of thick and creamy. Laksa is one of those noodles with a pretty strong taste, but this one ended up being very very light.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

McCormick’s Chap Chae

This stir-fried noodles is pretty darn simple enough so I had pretty high hopes. The pack contains less than the laksa, with the noodles and the flavouring powder taking up most of the space. There’s a small pack of sesame oil as a last touch to add shine.

The instructions are simple, and similarly to the laksa I followed it closely. I also included all the extra ingredients indicated at the back of the pack.

The noodles for the chapchae are glass noodles and they cook really quickly. You don’t want to overcook these because part of what makes this dish so enjoyable are those bouncy and chewy noodles. Run them under cold water once done boiling to stop the cooking process.

Next just mix the powder with water until you get a thick sauce.

Now we sauté our other ingredients, which include the meat, shiitake mushrooms, and carrots.

Since the spinach cooks faster, we add it along with the glass noodles. Now the sauce is poured in and everything is tossed together.

Yum! I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected. It smelled good, tasted like sweet chap chae, and I like that touch of sesame seed in the sauce. I definitely recommend making this with ALL the trimmings, because it looks exactly like real chap chae that way!

The flavourings have a tendency to sink instead of coat all the noodles though, leaving you with a pile that’s more flavourful at the bottom than the rest of it. That’s really just my biggest qualm about this.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Final thoughts

Entering the Asian noodles market isn’t an easy task, but McCormick has the advantage of being more well known than say, a brand like Prima Taste. But in my opinion, you’re better off getting the Prima Taste laksa. (And plenty of the other Asian noodles under the Prima Taste brand actually.) However the Chap Chae gets a big fat yes from me. It tastes very close to real Chap Chae, especially when you add all the extra ingredients.

I really appreciate how McCormick aims to get a sort of balance between instant and fresh, but the 1 point off the rating really just stems from the fact that instant is never as good as the real thing. And well, I really wish the sauce would cling to the noodles more!

Will you be trying out these McCormick Noodle Mixes? If you’ve already tried them, what did you think?

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